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You might find yourself in the position of having to troubleshoot a computer but traveling to it is impractical or impossible. Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance are two features that can make remote troubleshooting possible by actually placing another desktop on your own either through the Internet or a private network. PCAnywhere from Symantec.com is an excellent program for this purpose and is much more reliable than the Windows features. Another nice feature is that it can be configured to work from behind a firewall if one or both users have a router or firewall set up. Remote Desktop is a program that comes with XP. You can install it on other Windows computers by using the XP installation CD-ROM. When the main page appears, click Perform additional tasks, then Set up Remote Desktop connection, and follow the prompts.
Remote Assistance, which is basically the same, is available on Windows Messenger (XP only), or on NetMeeting (in any version with NetMeeting installed, type conf in the Run dialog). Search the Windows Help files for more information. NetMeeting, however, is often unreliable.
Some tips on troubleshooting:
Any time troubleshooting becomes too time-consuming, or if the problem resists all efforts to solve it, it is best to back up the data, format the hard drive, reinstall Windows and the programs, and then restore the data.
If you run a virus scan and find any Klez or Elkern viruses in the System and/or System32 folders, chances are the system is damaged beyond repair. Reinstall the system as described previously. However, Panda Software (pandasoftware.com) has repair utilities available that might help so the system can be repaired instead of redone.
If you intend to format the hard drive and reinstall the system from scratch, and you don't have driver disks for all the hardware, it is a good idea to run an information-gathering utility that lists hardware, as discussed earlier in this chapter, and print a report. This way, if Windows doesn't recognize some of the installed hardware, you'll have a much easier time finding drivers.
If you are upgrading Windows, instead of running the upgrade disc from within the previous version, it often is a better idea to back up the data, format the hard drive, and run a clean install from the upgrade disk. This is especially advisable if you're upgrading Windows Me. While installing Windows, you'll be prompted to insert the disk from the version of Windows that was previously installed on the computer. Make sure you have it handy.
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